ASL Community Housing, now at UConn!

UConn now offers ASL Community Housing!

The sixth floor of Watson Hall on the UConn campus is offering a learning opportunity on another level. It’s all new this school year; For the first time there is a dorm floor dedicated to American Sign Language.

Officially it’s called “ASL Community Housing” and it was co-founded by senior and ASL major Lauren Gobler.


Deaf Perspectives on Mental Health & Suicide Prevention- Panel

Deaf Perspectives on Mental Health and Suicide Prevention
Online Panel Event

Thursday September 29th

6:00 – 8:00 pm (EST)

Location: Online via Zoom (register below)


This is a moderated virtual discussion about mental health and intersectionality, from a Deaf perspective. People from marginalized communities experience disproportionate mental health diagnoses, and the suicide rate among these communities reflect similar data. Many people are members of these groups in some way: they may be Deaf and Hard of Hearing, have visible or invisible disabilities, identify as LGBTQ+, or find their BIPOC identities adding to the risk factors while trying to navigate community and resources.

This event aims to foster conversations about how to tap into existing support networks and build new ones to keep ourselves and those we love safe. Feel free to ask honest questions without fear of reprisal. This is an inclusive space and we welcome all.


Kristen Pranzl

Dr. Makoto Ikegami – LCSW

Dr. Mary Karol Matchett

Tara Nesbitt-Dyck MSW, RSW

Christina Dunams – LMSW


Doris Zelaya

Click here for bios of our panelists.



(FREE. Please consider making a donation to AFSP, at the link below)

*This event is open to the public, will be presented in American Sign Language (ASL)

and will be interpreted into spoken English, along with professional Captioning Services (CART) *

*This program is sponsored by the University of Connecticut Communication Access and Interpreter Services (UCIS)

and offered at no charge. In lieu of a registration fee, please consider making a donation to the

American Foundation for Suicide Prevent, Connecticut Chapter, by clicking here.*

Have questions for the Panelists?

>>> Click here to submit your questions ahead of time <<<

(Submit as many questions as you’d like!)

Facebook Event Link

  • CEUs APPROVED: MassRID is an approved RID CMP sponsor for Continuing Education Activities.  This Professional Studies program is offered at 0.2 CEUs/ACETs at the Little/No Teaching Content Level.
  • Presenters, coordinators, and participants of this educational opportunity agree to promote an environment of mutual respect, free from bias and discrimination.
  • For more information, refund/cancellation policy or to request accommodations, please email ucis@uconn.edu.

UConn Suicide Prevention Resources

Sponsored by The University of Connecticut department of Interpreting & Communication Access Services (UCIS)

For more info contact UCIS at UCIS@uconn.edu

What about the Emotional Impact when Captions Disappear?

Charlotte Hyde: What about the emotional impact when subtitles disappear?

I think I speak for every deaf person when I say I love captions. The events of the past month have only made me appreciate them more. 

I think enough has been said about the logistics of what happened with Red Bee Media, along with the fact that people who rely on subtitles lost access to a huge number of television programs.

I’m not sure much has been said about the emotional impacts. 

Continue reading

Unmasking My Deaf Experience During Covid-19

In class, I cannot get close enough to read people’s lips behind the face shields because of social distancing rules, Kevin Garrison writes, so my students are increasingly silent.

October 8, 2020

I am a 39-year-old white male professor in a department of English and modern languages at a regional institution in central Texas, and I have spent the last 12 years teaching courses in technical writing, editing and usability. I have published in the top journals in my field, worked part-time in administration and was promoted this month to full professor.

And I am a deaf man who can no longer read your mask-covered lips during a pandemic.

Let me describe for you what I hear, like I do for my students on the first day of class. I am hearing impaired. Medical terminology is problematic for the Deaf: to describe myself as impaired rather than whole. But students understand impairment. Most are able-bodied; I am not. I show students an audiogram with the expected range of hearing highlighted in a bright, bold color: your line is probably straight, while mine is an exponential decline. Technical details help, too. I can hear everything under 250 hertz, everything left of middle C on a piano. By 2,000 hertz, three octaves higher, I am completely deaf. Descriptions of sounds and analogies work, too. I cannot hear whistles, bells, ringtones, birds, babies, the sound of an “S.” Imagine a graphic equalizer with the treble turned down. Imagine reading a book, but everything is fuzzy — dyslexia for the ears.

But the best descriptions are narrations, the experiential data. I can’t hear the siren when the police try to pull me over. That has the potential of getting me into trouble with the law, and it has. The students usually laugh at this point — unintentional anarchy from their college professor. I tell them another funny story: how I fouled a kid on the basketball court and continued to play, scoring a basket, praising myself and looking back to see the whole gym watching the deaf kid playing his own game. I didn’t hear the referee’s whistle. I tell them that I won a university contest with the opening line “I’ve never heard a baby cry.” Pathos is a great persuader, as is a baby’s cry.

Then I’ll demonstrate lipreading, a medium that is wholly unlike reading. Reading is decontextualized, and words can be reread. But reading lips is mostly sophisticated guesswork — ramp up the brain’s processor and fill in the missing gaps, like doing real-time jigsaw puzzle work. I tell them that context clues plus lip motions plus muffled sounds equal my best guess. In order to get a laugh about how few visemes exist in English, I tell them about the time I called out “T-bone” when my fitness instructor asked us to say a “state” while doing a push-up. I pair students up and tell them to have silent conversations with just their mouths, no sound. More laughter. We’ll watch a video from “Bad Lip Reading.” More laughter. It helps to make the uncomfortable palatable with humor.

Once the performance is over, I’ll remind them of the unfunny policy that I place in every syllabus: look at me, speak normally and don’t cover your lips.

Deeper Into My World

In March, since COVID-19, a singular question emerges: How to read lips that are covered by masks? By June, my university makes wearing a mask mandatory for the fall semester. I panic. I rant to my wife. I email administration, the ADA office, task force committees, my deaf colleagues. What the hell are the deaf and hard-of-hearing supposed to do in a world where lips can no longer be read? I get reassurances and promises that “we’ll” work with me. We’ll get face shields and signage. We’ll push content online. We’ll accommodate you.

Yes, accommodate me. Please do. That is a necessary start and a legal obligation. But the etymology of “accommodate” is to fit something into something else. I’m on the outside; you are on the inside. You’ll find space for me, room for me in the inn.

But come deeper into my world. Try growing up every day knowing that you are less than everyone else. All your terms that might describe me convey a sense of negation, loss or brokenness: disabled. Impaired. Hard-of-hearing. Abnormal. Hearing loss. Each connotation creates a sense of alienation by labeling my inferiority.

I learned that I was broken in kindergarten. My earliest deaf memory is watching Disney’s Robin Hood in the next-door classroom. I remember the rapture of listening to the serenade between Robin Hood and Maid Marian as they sang among the fireflies and waterfalls. Then I felt a tap on my shoulder. My class had gone back to our room. I had been left behind. The rapture had actually occurred and only I remained. Embarrassment followed recognition: I didn’t hear like everyone else. I started wearing hearing aids.

In second grade, my peers and I became acutely aware of the other. “Us” didn’t interact with “them,” and as a deaf kid, I desperately wanted to be part of “us.” A young girl in my class, with albinism, looked different. She had “albino germs,” and touching her was the quickest way to become a social pariah. You had to cross your fingers at all times or else you would be contaminated. I participated and crossed mine. It wasn’t germs that created isolation; it was difference. Our fingers were masks well before COVID.

In late high school, I stopped wearing hearing aids because they didn’t help me hear high-pitched sounds, and they amplified the low-pitched sounds enough to give me headaches. I remember putting on super-powered hearing aids and hearing the crunch of gravel under my feet as I walked through a parking lot, and I discovered that I don’t need to hear the crunch of gravel in a parking lot; you might. But mainly, the aids labeled me a priori as “deaf” and the never-escaping accompaniment of “dumb.” I desperately wanted to meet someone and have them know me; the hearing aid was a mask, not my primary identity.

By the time I was in college, I dabbled in flipping the narrative. Deaf pride. Deaf gain. I am special, unique and cooler than you. I published a poem my senior year of college, and I read it to a room full of applause, telling the audience that I heard more than they did, deconstructing their privilege, showing that my loss allowed me to transcend the noise of their everyday life. Humility was replaced with exceptionalism. Deficit was replaced with asset.

For the last decade, I have slowly learned to advocate for the Deaf, for myself. Deafness is a hidden disability, so I make it present. I sometimes wear a “Deaf Cyclist” badge when I ride my bike. I tell my daughter, daily, that I cannot hear her without seeing her lips. I was on the television show American Ninja Warrior for one season, talking about the challenges of the Deaf. I email people I’ve never met, asking for accommodations before meetings. I play my guitar in public, not really caring if the missed notes and poor dynamics offend your ears; I play because an incomplete song is still beautiful to mine.

Business as Usual

This fall semester, I’m a kindergartener again, sitting in the classroom in my own world. The hearing aids are back in a new form. I have a name tag sign that says “I am DEAF. I READ lips” as a reminder to everyone around me that their mask is hiding their mouth. I am labeled again. In all caps. Thankfully, again, I am a tall middle-aged white man. If I were young, old or a woman, this label would position me as particularly vulnerable since I advertise my weakness.

You can still incapacitate me, though, even as you seek to accommodate me with a clear mask. Let me tell you the terrible secret that no one talks about with lipreading: when you speak, I must turn my head to listen. Like horse blinders, your mouth controls my eyes, and when you control my eyes, you render me powerless. I cannot choose to not read your lips; you know when I am not paying attention. My constant fear as a student was that my teacher would say, “Kevin, are you listening?” My eyes gave me away. I always sat in the front row in rapt attention, exhausting myself, swallowing the anxiety, perhaps the only one in the mass of uninterested kids. They could choose not to listen; I could not.

So I hide from people more often, now, cementing the alienation. I avoid you in the hallways. I avoid looking at your lips behind the clear face shields to avoid being captured. I stay at home where the sounds are my own, set at a volume that I choose.

And tonight, after supper, my wife is rubbing my tight shoulders and neck. Halfway through the massage, I realize that my right leg is also tense; the adductor has pulled my body inward on itself. I forcibly relax it. Then I notice my right pinkie is folded down into my palm, digging, turning on itself like a cannibal. I relax it, too. And I notice how I am hunched over, so I take a full breath for the first time in several hours. My diaphragm expands, relaxes and releases me for a moment. These moments are the therapies of years of disappearing — of drawing my body inward like a turtle in a shell, curling up into a fetal position and suffering from upper-crossed syndrome and the unnameable maladies of tight fascia, decades of scar tissue that never healed right.

How can it be otherwise? I cannot even drive my car without anxiety. I am more likely to be the victim of police brutality if I am pulled over. The officer has a gun and hearing; I don’t. I’ve always avoided places where my back might be turned to their muzzle: the dark streets at night and the late-night snack runs. Lips cannot be read in the dark. Now I cannot even join my colleagues on campus during the day and safely protest against police brutality because I might not hear the warning cries as the unknown and unexpected unfolds.

I returned to the office recently for the first week of the fall semester. I posted a photo to Facebook and captioned it “Back in the office. Business as … usual?” with my ADA signs in the background indicating that visitors are entering a deaf and hard-of-hearing area that was safe for me, face shields required. A former student saw my post, and he contacted me last week. He said that he, too, was deaf in the high-frequency ranges, and he mostly kept it secret. He disliked his hearing aids, though the new ones nearly disappeared in the ear canal, preserving his secret. He disliked the labels, the ADA accommodations, the masks, but he wanted to stay hidden. We are invisible, just like our alienation is invisible.

Yes, business as usual. I walk around campus. Everyone is wearing a mask and socially distancing, present but hiding. The masks are the today’s crossed fingers: no, I don’t have albino germs or COVID, and if you don’t cross your fingers and wear a mask, you do. Us and them, again. But now, I can no longer talk to you or my former students, colleagues or friends. To engage you means that you cannot reply behind your mask.

In meetings, the opaque masks dictate the flow of the conversation. I sit there, unable to follow. In class, I cannot get close enough to my students to read their lips behind the face shields because of social distancing rules, so my students are increasingly silent. In the hallways, I hear the laughter of my colleagues, the stories, the connections, the relationships, but I hesitate to emerge from my office because hallways are masks-only. Relationships are built with daily attention to the absences that threaten to dissolve it, built not on digital communication alone, but smiles and frowns. I haven’t been able to carefully attend to a relationship with hardly anyone besides my wife and child for six months. A student on campus isn’t wearing a mask, and I find myself raging: yes, I can see your lips, but they are unwelcome. I suffer in silence to preserve us while you pretend the world isn’t changing. How nice to have resolved dissonance so easily.

Dichotomous Realities

Dissonance for me has always been a never-ending, daily struggle. I am Deaf, but I am also hearing. I am loss, but I am also more. I am alienated, but I am seen. I am the embodiment of a lived-world dialectic: to be both and neither at the same time, dissonance that can never be resolved.

Perhaps you can understand. COVID-19 has created a never-ending dialectic for us all, a world of continued uncertainty and anxiety. I read an article that humans cannot live in a constant state of uncertainty without having anxiety, but that is my job: to teach students to think critically, to question, to embrace dissonance. Learning cannot take place without it. And COVID-19 is a better teacher than I. Each day, we all face the same absurd, dichotomous realities: the mask says that you might have COVID-19. I might, too. But we don’t know. We must behave as if, but never as is.

My classes are dialectics now. I teach my class in person, but we must be ready to go online if the COVID-19 cases grow exponentially. I tell my students that the syllabus policies matter, especially the attendance policy: you must attend class. But not really, because no one wants you to come to campus with symptoms and infect us. So yes, the policies matter, but not really. Yes, the class is face-to-face, but not really.

Perhaps we are living in the greatest of all dialectics: philosophy and rhetoric. Truth with a capital “T” versus truth with a lower-case “t.” Permanency versus change. Reality versus appearance. Sameness versus difference. The world is changing, and we don’t want it to. The mask hides me, but like you, I’ve always been hiding. You can never see the me behind the masks that I’ve always worn, that I am wearing and that I will wear long after the pandemic.

But you can try. If you come to my campus, stop by my office. I’ll invite you to take off your mask, put on a face shield and step into my office. It won’t be risk-free for your body, but especially not for your mind. Communication always endangers your carefully curated view of the world. In fact, I suspect that if you look at my lips, get trapped in my monologue and uncross your fingers, you’ll find that we are both alone and scared, but we are learning. The invitation stands.

Deaf Professionals: Breaking the Sound Barrier

Can’t see the ASL announcement? Click Here.

UConn Communication Access and Interpreting Services and the Center for Students with Disabilities welcomes you to join us for a memorable event on Tuesday September 26, 2017, from 6:00-8:00 at the Legislative Office Building in Hartford, CT. This is the first celebration of its kind in Connecticut, and our excitement in preparing for this occasion matches your excitement to attend!

Deaf individuals have struggled through a history of marginalization, with limited opportunities for employment and education among countless other barriers. We at the University of Connecticut are honored to host a vibrant community of Deaf and Hard of Hearing students, faculty, and staff. Because the Deaf/Hard of Hearing community has grown, so has the community of ASL users on campus. In an effort to increase awareness across the board about the thriving Deaf and Hard of Hearing community here in Connecticut, this evening will offer you the opportunity to meet Deaf scientists, engineers, doctoral students, psychologists, mathematicians, medical providers, counselors, and just about any other professional field imaginable. All are encouraged to take advantage of this opportunity to learn more about the ways these professionals have navigated the education and employment system, and what their journeys looked like.

Deaf students transitioning from high school to college: this is your chance to speak with other members of the Deaf community who are willing to serve as mentors and guides. The collective wisdom these panel members offer is considerable. They have traveled the road you are starting down, and their message to you is: you CAN do it! Your options are not limited, and you have support.

Interpreters working with Deaf professionals: this is your opportunity to learn more about their experiences, their skills, and hear their stories. We often work with Deaf individuals who are subject matter experts in their fields. This is an evening of invaluable growth potential as we learn from those we work with daily.

Don’t know ASL? No problem! We have enough interpreters to make this evening accessible for all. Members of the UConn community – and the communities we collaborate with and serve – are welcome to join us for a special night of learning how we can better interact with our fellow colleagues.

The panel starts with an hour of questions and answers, moderated by Steve Simmons, a member of UConn’s faculty as well as a teacher at Norwich Free Academy. After that, an hour of networking between attendees and panel members will be complemented by desserts and beverages.

As one of the key events of the Center for Students with Disabilities 50th Anniversary Celebration, it is our privilege to welcome you to Deaf Professionals: Breaking the Sound Barrier!

Date and Time:

September 26, 2017


Legislative Office Building
300 Capitol Ave #5100
Hartford, CT 06106

R.S.V.P Today!

Please RSVP by Tuesday, September 12th. Minors must fill out the Waiver for University Sponsored Minor Programs below in order to attend this event. Both RSVP and consent form may be submitted to ucis@uconn.edu.


UCIS & CRT Collaborate to offer ASL interpreted theatrical performances this summer!

UConn Communication Access and Interpreting Services (UCIS), a division of the Center for Students with Disabilities (CSD), is proud to announce their partnership with Connecticut Repertory Theatre (CRT) to make the theatre experience more accessible! CRT’s Nutmeg Summer Series will feature 1776, Noises Off, and Disney’s Newsies – all of which will have a Saturday matinee performance interpreted into American Sign Language!


“We are very happy that we can offer the ASL interpreted performances this summer. We want all the members of our community to be able to enjoy the theatre.  This is a step to make that possible.” Matthew J. Pugliese, Nutmeg Summer Series’ Executive Producer


“The Center for Students with Disabilities, through UCIS, is pleased to partner with CRT to offer this public accessibility initiative to enhance our inclusive and accessible environment for the larger UConn community.” Donna M. Korbel, Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs and Director of the Center for Students with Disabilities


Come join us in supporting this inclusive endeavor and catch a great show! Watch our video announcement below for all the details!

Connecticut Repertory Theatre

UConn Communication Access and Interpreting Services